By: Jeff Sommes
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) detained an Indiana man while police after units removed the components of a handgun and 15 bullets spread across two of the man’s carry-on bags at a Terminal B security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
TSA officials said the finding and arrest was the 12th gun caught at one of the airport checkpoints so far this year.
According to TSA, the 9mm handgun was detected when the TSA officer staffing a checkpoint X-ray monitor spotted the firearm parts inside two of the man’s carry-on bags.
When the bags were searched, the components of the firearm were found along with the ammunition.
Officials said had the components been assembled, they would have resulted in the use of a working gun.
TSA officials alerted Port Authority Police, who confiscated the handgun components and arrested the man on weapons charges.
The traveler told officials that he had driven to the area, however, his car was stolen, so he was flying home to Indiana and thought it would be okay to travel with a disassembled gun. However, firearms and firearm parts are prohibited through a security checkpoint.
“The busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period officially gets underway on Friday and our TSA officers are focused on our mission to continue to stop weapons from being carried through our security checkpoints,” said Thomas Carter, TSA Federal Security Director for New Jersey.
“It is essential for travelers to know what can and cannot be carried through our checkpoints—especially during what is typically the busiest travel period of the year.
Any prohibited item, from a firearm to an oversized liquid that is detected in a carry-on bag, slows down the checkpoint screening process for the travelers whose carry-on bags trigger an alarm for a prohibited item. You do not want to be that person.”
Individuals who own firearms “should familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations as it pertains to traveling with their guns,” Carter added.
TSA has details on how to travel with a firearm posted on its website properly.
TSA officials said bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint.
Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances.
This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.
The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws.
Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
Last year TSA officers detected 5,972 guns at security checkpoints nationwide and 86 percent of them were loaded.